BBSRC EASTBIO PhD Studentship: Assessing the threat of antimicrobial resistance: A framework to support decision-making to ensure resilient aquaculture supplies

Closing date: 27 November 2023

About the Project

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR), particularly the global spread of bacteria with resistance to antibiotics, the so-called “Slow Pandemic”, poses the very real threat of limiting our ability to treat infections as we are used to over the last century. AMR is a “One Health”, systemic problem: it impacts the environment, humans, farm animals, and the links between these compartments. Our ultimate goal is to develop a tool that allows those involved in ensuring the safety and resilience of food supplies – from retailers to governmental bodies – to determine if a certain commodity from a particular locale poses an AMR risk or not and, if so, what can be done.

We focus on aquaculture (farming of aquatic animals): the world’s fastest-growing food-production sector. It is a diverse industry, involving many producing countries and many species. Similar to terrestrial animals, antimicrobials are sometimes needed to improve health and welfare, but the diversity of countries producing aquatic animals means there is huge variation in antibiotic usage (ABU) practices, leading to differential risk profiles for each country and product. However, there is a need for a way to assess AMR threats in food supplies objectively and identify steps that can be taken to mitigate these.

In this project the PhD candidate will study the farmed seafood supply “systems” of the UK “from farm to fork”, to see where threats from AMR lie and what farmers, governments, regulators, processors and others are doing about it and what more could be done. The focus is both locally produced commodities (e.g., Scottish salmon) and more exotic products (e.g., shrimp). From these findings, a tool will be developed in partnership with end users to identify what would inform decision making to reduce AMR threat in supplies. 

Funding Notes

This fully funded, 4-year PhD project is part of a competition and is funded by the BBSRC EASTBIO Doctoral Training Partnership and is open to students worldwide. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate, plus a stipend to support living costs and an annual research grant of £5,000 for the first three years of the PhD research (this is reduced to £1,500 in the fourth year of the PhD).